neuromarketing

Use (any) images to build your brand

Images play a powerful role in our decisions to buy many products. Have you ever caught yourself choosing between two magazines on the shelf of your local press shop just on the basis of which has prettier pictures on the cover page? Or paying just a bit more for a package of tea, if it's pretty, or a bottle of shampoo, if it's more attractive than the one standing just beside it? I guess the honest answer would be a firm "yes" for most of us.

The human brain just seems to need visual stimulation for better decision making. On top of that, most of the population on planet Earth can be described as "visual thinkers",  the subject I addressed in one of my previous posts, Is your web site sticky enough?

 

Marketing specialists have been using this knowledge for decades, trying to make their advertising content relevant and engaging. And that’s exactly what it often comes down to -- making images relevant to what the product or brand needs to express. This seems to be especially important for anyone who’s managing and developing brands in social media, having to select catchy images that support any written content, catching the attention of your Facebook fan, so that she spends just a couple of seconds more on your page. Familiar situation, right?

But a study recently carried out by the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand reveals even more astonishing facts about how the human brain perceives images. The study “Nonprobative photographs (or words) inflate truthiness” suggests that “text is more credible when accompanied by photos, even when the photos don’t support the point of the text!” (( Source: Persuade with Pictures, http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/persuade-with-pictures.htm ))

 

In four experiments, academics examined the impact of nonprobative information on truthiness, which refers to subjective feeling of truth.

 

“In Experiments 1A and 1B, people saw familiar and unfamiliar celebrity names and, for each, quickly responded "true" or "false" to the (between-subjects) claim "This famous person is alive" or "This famous person is dead." Within subjects, some of the names appeared with a photo of the celebrity engaged in his or her profession, whereas other names appeared alone. For unfamiliar celebrity names, photos increased the likelihood that the subjects would judge the claim to be true. Moreover, the same photos inflated the subjective truth of both the "alive" and "dead" claims, suggesting that photos did not produce an "alive bias" but rather a "truth bias." Experiment 2 showed that photos and verbal information similarly inflated truthiness, suggesting that the effect is not peculiar to photographs per se. Experiment 3 demonstrated that nonprobative photos can also enhance the truthiness of general knowledge claims (e.g., Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump). These effects add to a growing literature on how nonprobative information can inflate subjective feelings of truth.”  (( Source: Abstract of the new study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22869334 ))

The main point here is this:  as a manager who wants to build powerful branded content, you now have more freedom to work with images, which, as the study above shows, are worth even much more than a thousand words.

 

Source: The Neuromarketing blog by Roger Dooley

 

Skip a milkshake, order a smoothie

I've just read an interesting post by Roger Dooley, The Power of Positive Names. In his review of an upcoming study about the power of naming products and product categories (to be published later this year in the Journal of Consumer Research), Dooley gives simple but quite powerful examples.

 

It turns out, we are much more likely to indulge into cakes for breakfast if cakes are called muffins.  In a similar way, we appreciate a dish of pasta, meat and vegetables if it's called pasta salad rather than simply pasta. And yes, a smoothie definitely sounds more healthy than a milkshake, notwithstanding the fact that it's essentially the same product.

 

Big gifts, big rewards

Today I want to share with you an interesting article on the Neuromarketing blog, Give Big, Get Bigger. The article discusses the subject of reciprocity, and it boils down to the following conclusion: if you want to receive something, give first.

A study by a German researcher Armin Falk showed that the bigger the "gift" sent by charitable foundations to potential donors, the bigger the reward that donors give to charities.

 

"Falk’s study involved mailing 10,000 requests for charitable donations, divided into three groups. One group got just the letter requesting the donation, one group received the letter plus a free postcard and envelope (the “small gift”), and the last got a package containing four postcards and envelopes (the “large gift”)....The small gift boosted donation totals by 17%. The recipients of the large gift, though, were even more generous: they donated 75% more than the no-gift group." (quote by Roger Dooley)

 

Reciprocity is often misunderstood by marketers -- for instance, at conferences, or in direct mail. How many times have you receive "gifts" that you didn't need, for example? Reciprocity in business becomes really powerful only when gifts are chosen thoughtfully and consciously, with the final gift recipient in mind.

 

Try to give meaningful gifts, and see if this can help you build a funky brand.

 

How we perceive marketing messages depending on our mood

Results of research by University of Toronto demonstrate that people see images worse if they are in a bad mood. The blog post discusses what possible implications this research might have on ads and our perceptions of messages they carry.